‘Is that a name?’
He looked at me with a downward look, a kids glove type of condescension that expected misunderstanding. I mistook it for a scientific intention to experiment. Innocent, I took flight from the ordinary.
‘Dr. Aleks Ogtrop. I’ll be taking care of you for the time being. Now, how are you feeling?’
‘I… don’t know…? exactly.’
“That’s alright. Just relax. You’re in a safe place.”
I sat up a little bit.
“So, we believe you ingested some substance tonight. Do you know what it might have been?”
“Do you remember what you took?”
Of course I would know what I took. What kind of question is that? I thought about it, though.
“I smoked.. Some weed.”
“Hmm-hmm.. Anything else?”
My skin was warm. The shadows were doing a shifting thing that I didn’t like. I was of a mood like a mercury dust. I could change tinge and go into a mess on the easiest fingerprint smudge.
“Do you think maybe there could have been something in the weed you weren’t aware of?”
“Who gave you the weed?” the doctor asked.
It was hard to think. When I tried to think back, I slipped on the present in its own fluid sense. I remembered the floor of the convenience store, hard and wet. And trekked back through the woods and the night. And found a fire.
“Guy at the bonfire,” I said, after an awkward pause.
“Okay, that’s fine,” the doctor said. “Stay here and take it easy. I’ll be back with the nurse in just a minute.”
He opened the door and left. Ogtrop.
I stood up and looked slightly around the mostly cold-steel sterile room. I didn’t know what I was looking for, but sitting still would have me looking into corners of things I didn’t want to. The clock loomed large on the wall. Six o’clock, a few minutes past. For a while I wasn’t sure if it was A.M. or P.M., night or day, the morning after the party of hundreds of years in some distant direction. I decided I had walked through the woods most of the night and the police brought me here straight from the bright lights of the convenience store aisles.
I was tired in a way that I wasn’t sure-
The door opened loudly. The doctor held it open for the nurse to enter, and she came over towards me gesturing for me to sit back down. I did so and we communicated all this motion in silence. She took my blood pressure. High. Pulse, elevated.
Her hands rushing against my arm and the sense of the movement against shirt material into skin felt like revelation. The simple pressure of the regulator cuff, pumping up and restricting my upper arm, stilled me. Made me well, as I contemplated the application of medicine as a conjuring trick. Yes, the medical practice; a series of complex motions legislating authorial demonstration of secrecy, silence, and applied slight of hand and attention to children needing diversion from an endless series of birthday parties.
“Adolai,” the Doctor looked at me again in that complaisant way. “We think you may have been given some drug against your knowledge. Most likely, LSD. Are you familiar with this drug?”
“Yes,” I said. Suddenly, I had three letters to ascribe hours of uncertain floating terror. I smiled, unsure this was good news, but now having hope this uncertainty might end.
“Ok. It will need a while to get out of your system. So we’re going to give you a light sedative and let you rest here.”
“That sounds good,” I said, agreeing with the prognosis. Well done. I was very tired, but on the back end of agreeing with the magicians, I felt unnerved.
The sun was just up over the horizon, and its burnt yellow splay sizzled over the edge of the windowsill, a boiling egg in a cracked open world.
The nurse drew the shades, and I slipped into the yoke of an emergency room bed, pale, so pale, and grey.
“Ogtrop,” I said to the Doctor, as he was preparing to leave, testing the sound as I did so, wondering if the shape who walked away would respond to the noise barked. “What does it mean?” I asked. In a far too serious tone.
“It’s Ukrainian,” he answered.
“Oh,” I all but whimpered. And my eyes lulled to the flat white sheets, as I turned my body in silent twinge over on myself, omelet style, and stilled there.